Over at Center for American Progress, Sean Pool has perhaps the best write-up of RGGI I’ve seen. (RGGI is the carbon cap-and-trade system at work in the northeast United States.)
It’s a nice survey of the program’s progress to date, and a good reminder that properly regulated carbon markets can work extremely well. In fact, as Pool points out, the latest market monitor report, published earlier this month, once again found that RGGI’s markets appear to be free from gaming or manipulation. Even more importantly, the program is reducing emissions effectively and efficiently.
Pool also includes a helpful partial list of the very real benefits that the RGGI’s auction proceeds are yielding for the state economies and workers in the northeast:
“Expanded efficiency programs, funded in part by RGGI, are expected to create or maintain 4,000 jobs in Massachusetts over three years,” said Phil Giudice, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
Programs funded with RGGI proceeds are currently supporting approximately 200 full-time jobs in New Hampshire according to the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, or PUC.
The workforce at the Center for Ecological Technology, a company that conducts efficiency work, has doubled since RGGI began, increasing from 50 to 100 full-time employees.
Conservation Services Group, a national energy services firm, hired 170 people last year, bringing its total workforce to almost 600, with nearly half its staff located in the RGGI region.
Delaware is directing 15 percent of its auction proceeds toward low-income consumers through state-administered Weatherization Assistance Program and the federally funded and state-administered Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program programs.
Maryland invested some of the auction proceeds to create the Home Energy Retrofit and Weatherization Workforce Training Program, a “one-stop” training source that has provided energy efficiency job training to more than 600 contractors at 13 community colleges across the state.
Similarly, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will use RGGI proceeds to “partner with constituency-based organizations, community colleges, unions, and other groups to build and expand training and certification programs for emerging workers, building remodelers, HVAC technicians, energy auditors, and engineers,” according to RGGI’s press release.
Connecticut was able to reopen an oversold solar rebate program thanks to RGGI auction proceeds, providing a 40 percent tax cut for the installation of photovoltaic solar panels on building roofs.
In other words, RGGI’s cap and trade program is the backbone of a flourishing new green jobs sector.
Not that we should be overly optimistic. As my colleague Roger has pointed out, green jobs programs can be fragmented or poorly implemented. But by establishing a legal limit on carbon emissions and generating revenue for clean energy, RGGI appears to be on the cusp of a transformative green jobs breakthrough.